The man recently appointed Auditor General Ag. Sir Anthony Nwamadi Kamalu was formerly a messenger. But the ambitious youngster set his sight on the big office, from day one. He got there two months ago through hard work and determination. Notwithstanding, it took him 33 years and a fair amount of grey hair.
Clad in brown and sitting behind a neat spread of files, Sir Anthony, just back from a meeting and preparing for another, took a quick look at himself three decades ago.
“I started from scratch. After my secondary school, I got a job with audit department. They advertised for the post of clerical assistants in 1980 and we applied. During the interview, we were told that they were going to use us as messengers in the office. Personally, I agreed and those of us who refused were sent out,” he recalled, emotionally, half closing his eyes.
“After conducting the interview, they thought that Kamalu was over-qualified so they employed me and after serving them for two good years, I was converted to the next befitting position – clerk – and I am proud to mention it and tell the world that whoever starts from scratch can equally make it.”
The Uratta-born son of a policeman rose through the ranks, having studied and passed different accountancy and management exams. He is a certified national accountant, chartered accountant, knight of St Mulumba, graduate of Panjab University, India and a member of different professional bodies. Sir Anthony, fondly called Nwamadi at home, is a down-to-earth, unassuming and amiable man. A father of eight, he is married to Blessing Chijioke, an equally warm and sociable school teacher.
With a degree in economics, Sir Anthony started his journey to the top and distinguished himself as a seasoned administrator. He technically knows every pothole in the Department, as he headed several units and left behind a trail of excellence.
Looking back, he continued to take a snap shot of himself.
“I was reabsorbed in my department when I returned from India because I went with study leave. By 1991, when I came back, after four years I was to head the Orlu branch office. First, I worked under the branch head, Mrs Uzoma, in 1996. I then took up the mantle and headed the branch until 2009. That exposed me greatly to administration. I am an eminent administrator,” Sir Anthony said, shaking his head.
“After that, the department saw the need that Kamalu should come back, he was now a material for headquarters and happily I came back and I have been performing tremendously well. I was first sent to head the loses and Investigation department, the then auditor general Chief Ujunwa, after seeing the material in me sent me to head the admin section, after admin, I was posted to head the Government accounts department where I was in charge of all the Government ministries and parastatals to ensure that these ministries are thoroughly audited.”
The chartered accountant continued his exposition, leaving no doubt about his ability and contributions.
“Not that I will personally go to the field and audit, I have to prepare the programme… Throughout the period, I performed very well to their liking and to that of the state government. I believe that it was when in administration that my God was preparing me for this position and today it has manifested,” he added.
A former pupil of Alum/Orii primary, Sir Anthony became the chief steward on May 1st following the retirement of his boss, Mrs. Ugoanyanwu. He said it was no surprise to him that he was appointed to succeed her being the next in line, although in typical Nigerian fashion anything was possible.
“It never came to me as a surprise because I have been serving the state government for the past 32/33 years and I am now duly qualified to occupy such a position. I joined the civil service since 1980 and served for 33 years and I have two more years left to proceed on retirement and I am over qualified, over riped and over mature for this position,” he maintained.
“They have given me official documents to act on the position… I know I am performing very well and my staff members are very happy with me and as such, very soon I expect a confirmation. I have been performing exactly as expected of me. Executing the expected functions, diligently and as expected by the government.”
A product of the defunct Gideon Commercial School, Emekuku, the auditor general also took time to explain his job.
“Our main role is to ensure that all the state accounts are taken care of and monitored thoroughly – that is why the office of the state Auditor General and all auditors of the state are being regarded as the watchdog of government. You have to monitor the performance of every dick and harry as far as Government offices are concerned and ensure that all anomalies are eradicated and ensure that things are done appropriately.”
Well, everybody knows things are not done properly in Nigeria and Imo State is no exception. It’s worse when it comes to money matters, Face2Face quizzed the AG.
“Due processes must be followed. If one fails to do that, audit will expose them. If they go contrary to what is stipulated in the financial instruction and regulation, we expose them – we open them up,” he insisted.
But there are limits to what auditors can do, even the AG. They can uncover irregularities but who gets prosecuted anyway?
“We don’t audit human beings, we audit records produced for our audit. We must take time to go through all financial records – one by one and those found guilty must be treated accordingly we recommend to the state government to take appropriate action through the head of service,” he explained, ignoring my curiosity.
What if the state government is the one cooking the books? Face2Face queried again.
“If records are cooked up, the auditors being experts and professionals will find out. Good auditors don’t mingle or interfere with the affairs of government. We stay aside and watch their performance, so that they don’t corrupt us,” he explained.
“Being appointed by government does not mean you should let them influence you or make you do what is contrary to the norm. Government appointing me doesn’t mean I should dance to their tune. Rather, I will dance as stipulated in the civil service regulation, financial instructions and the Nigerian constitution.”
Summing it up, he added: “Auditors are professions. We’re not politicians who are easily appointed and removed. We grow from scratch.”
Undoubtedly, Sir Anthony grew from scratch, knows the ropes and loves his job. Even as AG, he still carries work home at times, because in audit, the higher you go the hotter it becomes.
“If you relax, your table will be filled with files and I don’t like that. I ensure all files are treated as they come.”
That’s the eminent administrator speaking.